Operations in the Aden Protectorate and Air Operations Round Aden

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Operations in the Aden Protectorate and Air Operations Round Aden

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Two newspaper cuttings with an explanation of the RAF's activities in Aden.

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Two newspaper cuttings

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MBellOH565848-210421-09

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Operations in the Aden Protectorate

AIR BLOCKADE is the latest method of dealing with truculent tribes in the Aden Protectorate according to a report received from official sources concerning successful air operations in the Wadi Maria Valley last August.

The Ahl Mansur section of the Lower Aulaqi tribe who live in this Valley, which is on the main trade route from Ahwar to Yeshbum, have been causing trouble to the authorities for some considerable time and at the end of June Sheikh Muqbil Salim and four Aquils of the section refused to provide an escort for a Government official to pass through their country.

A Political Officer was therefore flown to Nisab on July 17 with letters to the offending tribe ordering them to come to Yeshbum on July 27 to meet him and explain their conduct. Similar letters were dropped on the villages of the Aquils concerned. On July 22 a demonstration by twenty-three aeroplanes of Nos. 8 and 12 (Bomber) and No. 41 (Fighter) Squadrons was made over their country, followed by further visits by aeroplanes.

Only one of the five Aquils concerned, Muqbil Salim, met the Political Officer at Yeshbum. He stated that he had no control over the others and that the reason that they had refused an escort for the Government official was the fear that he would be attacked. They considered that in the circumstances he should not go through the country. [inserted] 1936. [/inserted]

The truth of this statement was doubted and local reports indicated that the remaining tribesmen were definitely opposed to authority. What influence Muqbil Salim had over them was not known, but as his explanation of the incident was regarded as unsatisfactory, an ultimatum was sent to the offenders ordering them to pay a fine of rifles and money by August 10. If they failed to do so their villages would be blockaded until they submitted.

The fine was not forthcoming, and after the usual 48 hours' warning notices had been dropped an air blockade of the tribal territory and villages concerned began on August 13. After seven days the Aquils submitted and paid their fines in full on August 21, on which day the blockade was lifted.

The political authorities consider that the result of this air action has had a salutary effect over a widespread area in the remote sections of the Protectorate to the North East of Aden.

The air blockade system seems to be an improvement on the simpler and more economical method of punishment by bombing, particularly in countries like Aden, where the offenders can take cover in caves. But as a blockade means constant patrols by day and night, a very much larger number of aeroplanes would be needed.

Fortunately for the success of the operation on this occasion No. 8 (Bomber) Squadron was reinforced by two squadrons, Nos. 12 and 41, of the Metropolitan Air Force, which were temporarily stationed in the Middle East in connection with the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

No. 8 (Bomber) Squadron not only has to look after an enormous area in the Aden Protectorate but also maintains a detached Flight in British Somaliland.

[inserted] J. TAYLOR [/inserted]

[page break]

Air Operations Round Aden

QUTEIBIS AND SUBEIHIS are restless and perverse peoples whose activities in the Aden Protectorate keep the R.A.F. squadron stationed there in a constant state of warklike [sic] activity. Their most outrageous acts are usually followed by a period of defiance which lasts until a few minutes before the first bomb is due to fall, or in some instances until the first few bombs have fallen. They then hurriedly capitulate, pay their fines or hand over their hostages and behave themselves until temptation is again too strong for them.

An outbreak of predatory raids against transport vehicles along the trade routes culminated at the end of August in an attack on a political officer at the Wadi Ma'adin in Subeihi country, about 50 miles North-West of Aden. The Sultan of Lehej was asked to take firm action against the culprits in accordance with the established policy of charging local rulers with the maintenance of order in their territories.

On Sept. 14 a column of the Lahej trained forces arrived at Am Riga, and at the same time a full squadron demonstration was made over Am Riga and the disaffected area by No. 8 (B.) – Squadron. This settled Am Riga and the next day the column moved to Bir Uzia. Eighteen minor chiefs were summoned to answer the charges against them, and by Sept. 19 all but four had submitted. Bombing warnings were issued to these four, and at dawn on Sept. 22, when the warnings expired, all but the Jaufi tribe had submitted.

The Jaufi tribe live in a small village named Al Heija, in the Wadi Ma'adin, and this village was subjected to air action, followed by a demonstration march by the column through the area, and the establishment of a post at Tor Al Baha, at the junction of the Wadis Ma'buk and Ma'adin.

The political authorities expressed the opinion that this operation had an excellent effect which could not have been produced by any other method in this notoriously lawles [sic] area. By the end of September peace was restored.

Soon after this the Sheikh of the Ghazali section of the Quteibi tribe and one of his tribesmen were summoned to appear at Dhala to answer a charge of damaging the landing ground at As Sauda and threatening to fire an aeroplane of the R.A.F. which had been forced to land there. The guilty parties failed to appear and they and certain other Quteibis responsible for their attitude were ordered to pay a fine before dawn on October 18, failing which their villages would be subjected to air action.

On Oct. 12 a demonstration flight was made over the area by twelve aeroplanes of No. 8 (B.) Squadron and nine aeroplanes of No. 55 (B.) Squadron, which happened to be in Aden on an inter-Command flight from 'Iraq.

On Oct. 18, notices were dropped on the villages of Al Jabha. Thumeir, and Shab ad Diwan, and in the Wadis Dibsan and Dhara warning the occupants to leave as air action would begin on Oct. 21. Loyal tribesmen promptly evicted the Ghazali from the Wadi Dibsan and notice of air action against this area was cancelled.

As the fines were still unpaid on Oct. 21, bombing began on that date and continued for three days. It was then suspended to allow the principal Sheikhs of the Quteibi tribe to assemble at Am Migba before the Amir of Dhala for a conference.

The final full squadron raid on the last of the three days created a profound impression on the offending tribes, an impression which was greatly enhanced by the fact that a salvo of bombs fell outside a cave occupied by some of the chief offenders. At the conference they were in a very chastened and conciliatory mood and made complete submission to the Government's terms.

[inserted] J.T. 1937. [/inserted]

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James Taylor, “Operations in the Aden Protectorate and Air Operations Round Aden,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/37189.

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